Kootenay National Park
Of the four National Parks that make up the Canadian Rockies, Kootenay National Park is the smallest and somewhat shy brother, that usually doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It borders with Banff National Park in the east, Yoho National Park in the north, is crossed from north to south by the Kootenay and Vermillion rivers, and route 93 that splits it right down the middle.
The Kootenay, an Indian tribe, were the first to settle here, giving the park its name.
Fires and floods
Driving through the park exposes many burnt trees that are a remnant of a huge fire that occurred in the park during 2003, as result of a lightning strike, and was one of the worst fires in the region, reaching a threatening 20 miles from the town of Banff. In order to stop and contain the fire, the fire department started a controlled fire in a father part of the forest, to create a “clean zone”, with nothing for the fire to burn.
Since then the trees have slowly started to recover and the thinning of the forest turned out to be advantageous to the local wild life and plants. The park bad luck also includes flash floods that occur every once on a while.
Points of interest
But the parks’ real beauty is revealed to those who are willing to put in the time and hike into the heart of it. The Rockwell trail, a multi-day trek alongside enormous rock walls in the northern part of the park, can easily rival some of the best treks in the Rockies.
We recommend that you treat your aching muscles with a visit to the Radium Hot Springs that are located near the (dramatic) southern exit point.
- Marble Canyon
- Radium Hot Springs
- Rockwall Trail
- Paint Pots
A popular stopping spot along route 93. The Tokumn River gushed through the limestone for thousands of years, creating a deep and narrow canyon. A mostly flat trail weaves through the canyon and offers a peak into the depth of it, on wooden platforms. Total trail duration: 45 minutes round-trip.